My husband has a friend whose son is in a chess club. In the club, they tell the students that “there’s winning, and there’s learning”. Losing somehow got left off the list. When we heard that, we laughed, chalking it up to some sort of self-esteem gimmick intended to keep kids from ever feeling bad about themselves. But then, as sometimes happens, I started to think about the concept. So now I get to laugh at myself for being so cocky because, in certain areas of life, that principle holds true. In fact, in sewing as in chess, the only real losing happens if you fail and learn nothing from it.
So, today, I have a few sewing
failures learning experiences to share with you. These are garments I completed awhile ago, but in wearing them I discovered that they weren’t really right somehow.
This summer and last made me see that I really wasn’t wearing this shirt. I like the concept of it, and I love the fabric and the binding I (finally) managed to get attached, but when I wear this, I’m always worried that it will blow open in the back. I also can’t wear standard undergarments with it without worrying about my straps showing (something I’m not a fan of, despite current trends). The shirt never lays right (which I think is due more to my fiddling with the seam allowances and binding than with the drafting of the pattern). So, I declare this a
fail learning experience.
What I learned: It’s better to spend my time making a bunch of shirts I can wear with standard undergarments rather than making ones that will cause me to worry if anything I don’t want to show is showing. Maybe five normal shirts equal one that calls for strapless support. I also began learning to use my binding attachment on my Featherweight, something I had never tried before.
#2: The overly long infinity scarf
I thought I was so smart when I made this. Rather than following the pattern lengths given in the tutorial, I used as much fabric as I had because I loved it so much and didn’t want any to go to waste. And then I never wore it. Because it was too long/big (actually, this picture brings the word “goiter” to mind). Now the former scarf is on my sewing table, recut into a woven tank top. Hopefully that will work out better.
What I learned: Sometimes it pays to follow the directions, even if it means a little bit of “waste”. Because, really, couldn’t I have used the leftovers for something else and then had a useable scarf? Also, even though I could have reworked the scarf to a shorter length, sometimes you are just done with a project and need to move on. And that’s ok.
Well, some of you knew this was coming! My latest attempt at a swimsuit gets an A for looks, but is a fail for wearability.
I wore this suit once while in Michigan and, in addition to the issues I detail in the (very detailed) post about this suit, one of the underwires started to come out. That was when I decided: I’M DONE! Then I promptly bought a too-big tankini top from a thrift store and started fiddling with that, trying to get it to fit. Sometimes, it can be hard to know when you need to walk away.
What I learned: Know when to walk away! I’ve put myself on bathing suit probation for a few months. I’m still determined to get “mad bathing suit sewing skillz”, but I need to take a break before diving in again. Also, there may be something to be learned in the realm of not trying to make a pattern do something it wasn’t intended to do…but you can’t always know until you try.
Maybe that’s the larger lesson to be learned from each of these projects: TRY. If there’s no “losing”, if you can learn from it, it’s probably worth it to try. Of course I’m not talking about “trying” stuff with massively expensive fabrics on someone’s wedding dress or something. The stakes were never even close to that high with any of these projects. But I’m glad I did them, even if they aren’t going to become part of my wardrobe, because now I’m a better seamstress/sewist than I was before.